Car or driver?

‘Man or machine?’ is the age-old question in Formula One. How can you really tell who or what is making the difference? No one will ever be able to answer it convincingly enough for everyone to be happy, but truth be told, it’s always a bit of both.

Martin Brundle put it brilliantly during the Beeb’s pre-race coverage at the German GP on Sunday, when he was talking about the updated McLaren MP4-24 of Lewis Hamilton.

McLaren had been working flat-out behind the scenes back at the factory in Woking, in order to get the new pieces ready for last weekend’s race.

They provided Lewis with a new front wing, side pods, engine cover, floor and rear diffuser, all helping to improve on the elusive downforce.

The upgrades, which basically turned the car into a B-spec version, helped Lewis to find around eight-tenths of a second per lap.

A huge improvement by anyone’s standards.

And although this adds weight to the ‘car not driver’ side of the argument, Lewis, as Brundle put it, gained confidence, which allowed him to drive the car harder, which improved the downforce, which made the lap times better. And so on.

This is something the Red Bull drivers have found too. The better the car is, the better Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel are able to drive it.

Jenson Button on the other hand, seeing the improvements of those cars in front of him, would start to lose a little faith.

Yet that won’t last long, as Brawn will be bringing new parts to their aero package for the Hungarian GP in two weeks, so the tussle at the front will continue.

As will the car vs driver argument.

Which can only be a good thing for us, as we’re going to have a great battle for both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships.

Although surely it’s too much to hope for a down-to-the-wire finish three years on the trot?

We can but pray.

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